asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Retrospective: 6 years.

Calendar year 2014 was my first year back in Portland. I'd found a place in Northwest Portland - I actually signed the lease on New Year's Day - and spent January tying up loose ends, re-connecting with friends and family, and packing. The physical move happened around the end of January, and I was settled in just in time for my 51st birthday.

In February, I bought a new Android phone and was frustrated by the pointless switch in the positions of the "OK" and "Cancel" buttons from one version of Android to the next. This kind of thing still annoys me. My real loyalties were always with BlackBerry.

Bunny visited in March.

I didn't travel abroad that year but I did visit our Nation's capital in June. I stayed in Alexandria and saw the usual DC sights, and also got to meet all three Fadhil brothers - Omar, Ali, and Mohammed - whose blog 'Iraq the Model' I had followed closely in the early 2000s. A write-up of the trip, with pictures, is at this post. Of particular interest to me was the Masonic museum, especially the exhibit on Brother David Dellal, the Freemason and Iraqi Jew who served as a translator in the US Army during WWII.

Bunny visited again in July.

In September - shortly after I'd started an online class to earn my A+ certification (the entry-level credential for IT work) - I went outside for a little run up and down the crumbling sidewalks of Northwest Portland. Three blocks from my house, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk, went down on hands and knees, and broke a bone for the first time in my life. The accident happened on September 9, and I remember that it was two days later, on September 11, that the pain finally forced me to stop john wayning it and pay a visit to the damn doctor. (All that time I'd been telling myself, "Nah, I didn't break nothin', it's just a bruise." Nope.)

But after spending the remainder of the course sitting at my laptop, alternately mousing with my left hand and clutching my right shoulder and moaning, I passed the exam.

I enrolled in some classes at Portland State that autumn, mostly for my own interest. One of these was an acting class, where one of the exercises was to answer fourteen questions as an essay, and then read the essay aloud.

You do your own laundry for long enough, you come to appreciate the color grey.

I grew up in suburban Connecticut, with a sister, Stephanie, who was a year and a half younger than me. My favorite show as a kid was 'Lost In Space' and I think even at that early age I appreciated the theatrical flair of Jonathan Harris as the arch-villain Doctor Zachary Smith, the sinister stowaway aboard the Jupiter 2 spacecraft. I think somehow I understood, too, that Dr. Smith was the most important character on the show: because no matter how far we travel from home, we bring our problems and our conflicts with us, and we have to deal with them.

I won't bore you with tales of a dysfunctional family. Stephanie was insanely gifted as a writer, but she had a difficult relationship with our mother and inherited Mom's taste for vodka; she discovered heroin on her own, and left this world about three weeks after her 28th birthday.

I love science and I enjoy a good science fiction movie as much as anybody. But somehow it's drama that always stays with me. It's people and their stories you remember. And it's the actors who bring those stories to life. ...

Balancing family life and the outside world has always eluded me; I've served in the military; I've been in relationships and I've co-parented two wonderful kids. (They live with their respective mothers in San Francisco and I miss them every day.) But somehow I could never make it all come together. So I live alone and I'm OK with that. And even at fifty-plus years of age, I don't feel like I really know very much about life. But here's what I think.

I think a family can be a prison or it can be a path to freedom. I think living alone can keep you sane or it can drive you crazy. I think art can bring enlightenment and wisdom, but it won't do you any good if you haven't got a life. I think it's important to stay in touch with your roots, but you can't keep living in the past because there's nothing for you there.

And I think that life is hard. It's easy to think about the other choice. "The jungle's dark, but it's full of diamonds!" That's the voice of Ben Loman - the departed brother of Willy Loman in 'Death of a Salesman', calling Willie to join him on the other side.

Don't listen. You have work to do here. Life in this world isn't dark like black velvet and studded with diamonds; it's grey and messy, like a pile of dirty laundry. But it's made for living.
Tags: retrospective
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